2009 marks the 30th anniversary for the White River Area Agency on Aging Inc. of Batesville. The agency was incorporated as nonprofit organization on June 21, 1979, to serve 10 counties in North Central Arkansas when then Gov. Bill Clinton had determined that services for older adults would be extremely important in Arkansas' future. 30 years later, the agency employs 550 persons with a budget of over $15 million annually and provides services to over 9,000 older adults annually.
To help celebrate the 30th anniversary, the agency hosted a banquet on July 9 at the American Heritage Center on the campus of Harding University in Searcy, Ark. In attendance, or recognized were some of the original incorporators of the agency that included: Jon Looney of Denver, Colo., Dr. A.M. Grasse of Calico Rock and Ann Rhodes of Batesville, as well as the current Board of Directors, Advisory Council and staff. Over 450 people were in attendance.
In 1979, the agency administered just a few programs including Senior Centers and the beginning of Case Management and Home Care. Today the agency operates over 20 different programs and services. The largest program is the Agency's In Home Care Program that employs over 425 Home Care Assistants and serves over 1,000 older persons daily. A highlight of the banquet was honoring the Home Care Workers and recognizing the Home Care Assistants that have been employed by the agency the longest from each county. In Sharp County, Mary E. Rikard of Hardy received an award for her 16 years of service to the WRAAA as a Home Care Assistant, helping older adults remain independent and in their own homes.
The agency has local offices in each county and can be contacted at 800-382-3205 or on the Web at www.wraaa.com.